“My first feeling was anger. I was angry at the person who gave this to me. How could they not tell me?”
Kate* is 24. She works in health care. And she has just found out she has the sexually transmitted infection herpes.
Kate, it seems, is not alone. It is estimated that one in eight Australians carry some form of herpes, and will for the rest of their lives.
Naturally, you would assume that when Kate sought solace in the depths of the internet after she had been diagnosed, that a wide range of stories would surface. That the personal stories of the 12 or 13 per cent would rear their heads, offering the kind of support you can only find in mutual experience.
But as she soon took fingers to keyboard, mouse to desktop, her search came up blank.
“When I found out, the first place I went was the internet to see if I could find other people’s stories. There were so many medical facts, but there were no stories. I was looking to be reassured, and nothing came,” she told Mamamia.
“I knew it wasn’t a big deal, and that so many people think it’s a bigger deal than it is. I knew it was fine and things would be okay, I just wanted that reassurance.”
Those who have been diagnosed with herpes fall into one of two categories. Type one is usually found around the lips and is commonly known as a cold sore, while type two is usually found around the genitals or anus. However, both types can occur in either area.
In this case, Kate has Type One herpes in the genital area. Since her diagnosis over six months ago, she’s spent a lot time thinking about why so many of those with the disease rarely speak up. And more than that, why there is still so much stigma attached.
“If I’m honest, it’s not physically an issue at all. It’s just some cold sores, and it’s more of nuisance than anything. Probably the most annoying part is that it’s with you for life,” she says of her diagnosis.